Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

It was not the exquisite location nor the varieties of spicy dishes that awaited me during meal and tea times at the lake view serving spots but rather, a kind of realization that everything that happened, and is happening to women is deeply entrenched and was by patriarchy. That was my first learning.Wasn't it shocking? It was even more shocking when I learnt that women contributed to their own oppression by the system. Like one facilitator put it right in yet another transformative Leadership training I was part of: women are gatekeepers of patriarchy!

I recollected incidences where our own mothers, or if you like, to be precise, the “Sengas” who tell girls about to be married that it is not right to deny your husband sex, you know you must respect your husband, your husband is always your first born. I had never reflected deeply on such culturally constructed statements. And well, that is a time I started re-learning and questioning what is right and wrong, what is natural and not?

All of us –as women and girls have been caught in this web of deceit. Some of us have spoken about it, whereas others are silent about such gender injustices. Another shock of my life was when, one hot afternoon, we were driven to pay a visit to The Remnant Generation, a women –led organisation that shelters sexually abused and pregnant teenagers. We listened with anguish, hate, tears and hope to the tale of one innocent teenage mother, barely 14 years had been ruthlessly raped on her way to school one evening to do her revision. However, when she returned home bleeding, she feared to disclose her ordeal to her parents because her father had threatened to kill her if she ever got pregnant.

I learnt that, it is only natural for a woman to become pregnant, give birth, and breast feed. As for a man, there is nothing natural or supernatural about him. If you consider washing plates, cooking, raising children etc natural for a woman, what makes men or boys natural is only doing what women are doing. In my experience as a young leader, it is important, henceforth for even us as women to realize that we make the world real, and perhaps that is why some selfish men keep oppressing such innocent girls. We are much more than, society sees in us!

I UNLEARNT a few beliefs that streamlined men, as “heads” of families, powerful, name it. Because there are single mothers, and yes, many are powerful women out there, whose work has been shelved and hidden. Is this what public –private dichotomy does? After the 5 days of intensive study, group work, and oh, selfcare, I learnt that, there is nothing about men, without women. Male supremacy is just artificial; JUST LIKE make-up. It can be washed or sweated away!

Harriet Karen Mukajambo
TuWezeshe Fellow 2018